"I'm really big on heat, since it draws blood to the spot that is heated. I am a huge fan of ThermaCare Heatwraps ($8; drugstore.com) since you can just wrap or tape them on and go about your life (I really like and recommend using one at night if you have a knot, or an especially tight spot)." —Heidi Kristoffer, creator of CrossFlowX (Got PMS cramps? Kristoffer shares the best yoga poses to ease aches and bloating.)
Bromelian is a mix of proteolytic enzymes (those found in pineapples), which have been used for centuries to help indigestion and reduce inflammation. Studies indicate this product helps reduce pain associated with arthritis, especially when used in combination with some other natural pain-relieving agents making it a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, says E. Anne Reicherter, PhD, PT, DPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes," she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice -- take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Paradoxically, inadequate sleep can make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it ineffective to treat just the pain. If you have sleep problems, you need to get the sleep problems addressed too.
1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
When used together, menthol and methly salicylate create vasodilation (opening of the blood vessels) close to the surface of the skin. Increased blood flow to the area of application is said to have pain-killing on the nerve receptors in the treated area. When combined, these two ingredients also work together to form a class of treatment called counterirritants. Counterirritants work by tricking the body into feeling sensations other than pain. The menthol and methyl salicylate in muscle creams create conflicting feelings of warmth and cold. When the nervous system sends both of these sensations, at the same time, they compete with and ultimately block pain signals from travelling to the brain. Together these ingredients, when delivered in muscle creams or sports balms, work to create a powerful 1-2 punch, killing pain and providing relief to aching muscles and joints.
If you need stronger pain relief, talk to your doctor about a prescription topical NSAID. A prescription topical NSAID is stronger than OTC products. Topical NSAIDs also carry less risk of stomach upset, ulcers, or other problems than oral NSAIDs do. The only prescription topical NSAID currently available is called Voltaren (diclofenac). Talk to your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.
Inflammatory disorders specifically respond well to the natural collagen-containing gelatin that is found in true bone broth. (24) Bone broth and meat stock are different, since bone broth extracts nutrients from the bones, such as gelatin, minerals, and amino acids, whereas stock only contains nutrients from the meat. While both can be healthy, stock contains no pain-relieving properties.
For arthritic pain in the hands and knees, capsaicin is your best bet if you want to go the natural route. Otherwise topical NSAIDs work well, too. If you are taking any medications for your arthritis, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before using any creams and gels and make sure there are no ingredients in them that could interact with your medication.
Foam roller exercises are a form of self-myofascial release that, while kind of mildly painful at times, actually gets out those nagging muscle knots while helping you fix muscle imbalances that lead to poor posture and related musculoskeletal pain. It’s also an emerging treatment to reduce your risk of developing delayed muscle onset soreness, a common exercise-related pain that keeps people out of the gym. (6)
A type of enzyme extracted from pineapple stems, bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions associated with musculoskeletal tension (such as TMJ syndrome), as well as those suffering trauma-related inflammation. What's more, the enzyme may promote healing in muscles and connective tissues.